Bethel B-mail: January 2017
Another Snow Day?!
There have been a lot of questions, so I’d like to explain how Snow Days are determined.
When snow or ice is in the forecast, I constantly check the National Weather Service website for details, then I’m on the road at 4:30 a.m. driving through Bethel neighborhoods. The supervisor from First Student (our bus service provider) and some bus drivers are on the roads as well, evaluating driving conditions.
Our Maintenance Supervisor checks the conditions at our schools, and I’m on the phone with superintendents in Springfield and Eugene 4J about their roads because many of our staff live in those areas and need to be able to get to work.
In the end it all comes down to student safety, and the decision has to be made before 6:00 a.m. so parents can try to make plans if we call for a Snow Day or 2-Hour Delay.
I’d prefer to have children in school all day, every day. And sometimes it feels like a no-win decision because someone is always going to be unhappy.
But keeping children’s safety in the forefront has allowed me to sleep at night, if only for a few hours at a time.
A Parade For Winners
The smiles, cheers, and tears of joy never get old.
37 Bethel teachers were surprised with grants by the Bethel Education Foundation. The teachers received up to $1,500 for student programs, everything from technology to trips and rockets to robots.
The teachers didn’t know that the BEF was coming, but they heard the small Shasta student band marching down the halls and leading the grant parade into their classrooms. In all, $35,000 in grants was given away to the deserving educators. Take a look:
You can help continue these efforts by donating to the BEF. Click here.
The Coaches Come Calling
Oregon’s new football coach Willie Taggart piled some of his staff into a pair of SUVs and pulled up to Willamette High School, complete with a police motorcycle escort.
It was part of their whirlwind tour of local high schools as the new staff introduced themselves to principals, athletic directors and football coaches. Making connections is extremely valuable to college coaches.
The UO staff learned a little about WHS, posed for pictures, flashed the O, and were on their way. Now Wil-Hi is on their map as the coaches leave no stone unturned looking for future football talent.
The Perfect Storm
The storm Mother Nature threw at us on December 15th was both beautiful and destructive. It also kept Bethel Maintenance crews incredibly busy. Here’s a look and the storm’s impact in Bethel.
Delayed but not deterred, Shasta students waited out the snow storms and went shopping for women and children at WomenSpace.
The shopping spree took place during Winter Break after the snow postponed the original plans.
This was the school’s winter version of the Shasta Shines Service Projects, regular events for students and staff that are geared to giving back to the community and the school.
Shasta received a generous $2,000 donation from GloryBee Foods, and kids raised an additional $1,700. WomenSpace provided a list of needs such as toiletries, socks, underclothes and gloves, and Shasta students did the rest.
Some of the shopping was also done for a handful of Shasta families who needed a little help during the holidays.
It’s Better To Give
This is a tradition that Fairfield families have learned to anticipate. The Spirit of Giving Store at Fairfield is a bonanza of books, clothes, toys, and thousands of other items for students to select as gifts for their families.
The Spirit of Giving Store is a creation of retired teacher and uber-volunteer Chris Ferguson and his wife Debby. They work year-round soliciting donations that help make the store possible.
Each Fairfield student was given a big shopping bag, and the youngest students were matched with 5th grade buddies to serve as helpers.
The snow days before winter break moved the big shopping opportunity to January, which didn’t seem to bother any of the kids one bit as they happily filled their bags with gifts.
An extra measure of safety is now visible at Willamette, Shasta, and Irving schools. A six foot powder-coated fence is going up at each school to better secure each campus.
At Danebo Elementary the open breezeways are being closed off with a wall and lockable doors. That will stop the free flow of foot traffic during the school day, and after hours.
These traffic control measures are helping each school meet the standards of safety that’s common at today’s schools, which call for visitors to go through the front office before being able to access the rest of the campus. School safety was not much of an issue back when Willamette, Shasta, Irving and Danebo were designed and built.
This enhanced security measure is made possible by the Bethel bond, the measure that was passed by Bethel voters with a 73% Yes vote in 2012.
The Water Works
Have you tested the water in your house for lead? Probably not, but every single potential drinking water source in our schools has been tested and a number of fixtures have been replaced.
You remember the urgency around the lead-in-school-water-supply testing back in June. We found that only 5% of the 866 possible drinking water sources needed attention.
We also discovered that doing these tests and repairs has been costly, close to $50,000 that the district had not budgeted for.
The state is offering to pick up some of the costs, but we’re using reserves – savings – to pay our water-testing bills. You can imagine if every household was suddenly expected to conduct its own water tests and was not prepared for the cost.
So, drink the water with confidence when you’re in our schools. EWEB’s McKenzie River water never tasted so good.
Serious About Science
Determining what textbooks should be used in our schools is quite an undertaking.
That process is now underway as Bethel looks to update its Science curriculum.
A select group of 25 teachers and administrators from all grade levels has begun meeting to examine the next generation science standards adopted by the state.
They’ve created an additional evaluation tool that’s deeper than the state’s standards and are now looking at possible science programs.
The group will examine four or five adoptable programs and have it narrowed down by April in order that Bethel students will have the very latest Science textbooks next fall.
Purchasing the new curriculum is all made possible by the 2012 Bethel bond measure.